1: one who guides the studies of another; especially, one whose occupation is to instruct
Between my three girls, our family has been served by thirteen teachers over the last nine years. Mrs. K is the only one to teach all three of them. My girls have had good teachers, great teachers, high energy teachers, mellow teachers, nurturing teachers, tough teachers, teachers who liked them as people and teachers who ended the year not knowing my daughter any better than the day they met them. Mrs. K is the best of the best. She's the kind of teacher who gets to know every child in her classroom and who then finds something likable, something teachable, something unique and valuable about each and every child.
About five years ago, we were in the process of leaving Hull-Jackson, a public Montessori school that had served as the launchpad for educating our daughters. Looking back, I know what a gift this style of learning was for A and B. A learned to read easily and early and a traditional kindergarten would not have been an ideal introduction to schooling for her. But Montessori worked great - she read at her level, did work at her level and never noticed that she was any different from her peers. I guess I should more accurately say that Montessori worked great until A reached first grade and then self-selected reading over every other possible activity. She never wanted to work on math or science or anything other than reading. That strong preference for one style of learning and one subject, combined with a principal who was nothing short of a tyrant, sent us looking for another school.
In the search for that school, we met Mrs. K. She was (and is) a second grade teacher at Lockeland. J met her first and came home enthusiastic about this teacher who seemed kind, knowledgeable and more than willing to help our family make the move to a more traditional style of learning. Going in, we had no idea whether A would actually end up in her class. But she made us see that a move to Lockeland was feasible for our family. To our great relief - and the answer to many prayers - A ended up in Mrs. K's class. It was a great year for her and the transition was easier than I could ever have imagined.
When B was assigned to Mrs. K's class the following year, I wondered how that would go. A is an easy child to have in your classroom - compliant, well-behaved, a fairly quick learner. B is another story - let her get bored at your peril. As we prepared for parent-teacher conferences the fall that B was in 2nd grade, I said to Mrs. K with a smile, "I'm sure we'll have more to talk about this year." I will never forget her reply, "Oh! B is great. Sure, she's different from A, but I love having her my class." I knew right then that it would be OK. And it was.
Relief is the only emotion I felt when K was assigned to Mrs. K this year. K has wanted to have Mrs. K as her teacher nearly her entire life. The first morning of kindergarten, K got dressed and said, "Do you think Mrs. K will like my outfit?" I didn't have the heart to tell her she was going to have to wait two years to actually be in Mrs. K's class.
In the years since our family has known Mrs. K, she's given birth to two girls of her own. They are blessed to have her. They have a mom who, I feel sure, will use all that makes her great in the classroom to help them succeed in learning who they are and growing into the best girls and women they can be. In many ways, that's what Mrs. K has done for A, B and K. She's seen them as individuals, taken the time to get to know their strengths and weaknesses and guided them through second grade - a year that serves as a bridge to a more independent stage of childhood.
While she's been busy teaching these girls of mine, I've been learning from her, too. Learning to see the challenging aspects of my daughters as part of the whole package. Learning to teach my girls where they are instead of comparing them to some guideline set by a stranger. Learning to take the teachable moments and enjoy the just-be-present moments.
I am always ready for summer to arrive and that is no less true this year. But combined with my desire for summer is a thankfulness for the year K had with Mrs. K - a great teacher.